This Mexico

A guide to the authentic Mexico

Private swim in a cenote

You can’t visit the Yucatán without taking a swim in a cenote. Cenotes are natural sinkholes in the Yucatán’s limestone that fill with groundwater. Since the area contains no rivers or lakes, these were the only sources of water for the Mayan. Most of the important Mayan civilizations are built around one or more cenotes.

Cenotes take a few shapes and forms. Some are wide, open pits with water that rises to ground level; they look like a pond, but are much deeper. The more memorable ones have a small opening at the ground surface, and open below ground like a large cave, with the water level dozens of feet lower. Tree roots and vines often dangle from the ground surface to the water. The water is often hundreds of feet deep.

There are a number of easily-accessed cenotes, such as Ik-Kil in Piste near Chichén Itzá. Visits to these cenotes are conveniently included in bus tours, but the tradeoff is that they are overrun with tourists.

The Yucatán is home to thousands of cenotes. Many are no more than a hole in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere. Or specifically, in the middle of a cattle ranch in Pixyah.

These more remote cenotes can only be visited with a guide who knows their location and has a relationship with the villagers. We did exactly this and the experience was incredible.

After our visit to Mayapán with Lawson’s Original Yucatan Excursions, we visited 2 cenotes in the village of Pixyah. At both of them, we had the cenote all to ourselves. The water was clear and blue. The first cenote we visited had a convenient area for jumping mid-way between the ground surface and water level. I was brave enough to make 2 jumps into the water (quite the experience). Apparently some (much braver) people will actually jump from the ground level. I guess I’ll have to make another visit in the future to try that out.

Enjoying a cenote all to yourself is a magical experience that cannot be described. Contact the team at Lawson’s for a cenote tour… it’s worth every penny. Tell them Matthew and Keith from Montreal sent you.

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